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Citizens Advice responds to today's Budget announcements on sick pay and benefits

11 March 2020

Citizens Advice has welcomed the announcement today by Chancellor Rishi Sunak of extensions to statutory sick pay. But the charity warns the coronavirus outbreak has exposed "long-standing flaws and inconsistencies" in the sick pay and benefits systems. 

Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“The Chancellor’s decision to extend statutory sick pay to those self-isolating will be a relief to some workers. But the self-employed and people in the 1.5 million jobs that don’t qualify for sick pay are still at risk of falling through the gaps if they become unwell. 

“We’re pleased to see the waiting period for contributory Employment and Support Allowance has been removed, but we know those who need to apply for Universal Credit will still face a lengthy wait for a full payment and could be pushed into debt as a result.

“This unprecedented situation has exposed the long-standing flaws and inconsistencies in our sick pay and benefits systems. While today’s measures are encouraging, the government needs to take a longer term view and build on them to ensure our social safety net is fit for purpose.”

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  2. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  3. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
  5. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  7. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 to talk in Welsh.
  8. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.